Safe Sleep Study Protects Infants’ Lives


WCA Hospital

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WCA Hospital

WCA Hospital is partnering with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services for a safe sleep study designed to prevent sleep-related infant deaths.

Sleep-related death is the number-one killer of infants 1 to 12 months old in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 2,500 infants die in the US each year while sleeping or napping. That’s nearly seven babies every day.

During the study, hospital maternity care staff will share information on the importance of creating a safe sleep environment for infants with parents of newborns. Maternity care staff will emphasize that infants sleep safest alone, on their backs in a crib, the ABCs of Safe Sleep. Parents will be surveyed later to determine if they’re following safe sleep practices at home.

WCA Hospital President and CEO, Betsy T. Wright, said the study complements WCA’s existing efforts to teach parents and caregivers about the importance of infant safe sleep practices. “WCA Hospital’s mission is to protect our community,” Mrs. Wright said. “We are pleased to be a collaborative health partner in this study with a common goal to prevent the risk of sleep-related infant deaths.”

Locally, the Southern Tier Child Health and Safety Team (CHST), a child fatality review team, has investigated five infant deaths linked to unsafe sleep environments since the team formed in 2010. The team helped recruit local hospitals to participate in the Safe Sleep Kits Study.

Southern Tier Health Care System CEO Donna Kahm coordinates the Child Health and Safety Team. She said despite ongoing safe sleep campaigns locally and across New York, infants continue to die due to unsafe sleep environments.

“Sadly, most of these deaths are preventable,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to continue to share safe sleep messages with parents and caregivers so they can take proactive steps to protect their newborns.”

As part of the study, new parents will receive a safe sleep kit including a tote bag, a door hanger with safe sleep information, written information on safe sleep, a book on safe sleep, a safe sleep DVD and a Halo Infant Sleep Sack. The kit will also include a safe sleep mirror cling and refrigerator magnet from the Department of Health. Parents will be asked to sign a consent form so researchers can survey them approximately one month after discharge. Parents will receive a safe sleep kit and information even if they decline to participate in the survey following discharge from the hospital.

Hospitals participating in the study include Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, Niagara County Medical Center, Olean General Hospital and WCA Hospital in Jamestown.

Supported by a grant from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the Southern Tier Child Health and Safety Team was founded to explore the causes of preventable child deaths and make recommendations to the community to prevent child deaths and improve the health and safety of children in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties.

Child Health and Safety Team Member agencies include the OCFS Buffalo Regional Office, Southern Tier Health Care System, the New York State Police, Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office, the Allegany County and Cattaraugus County Departments of Social Services, Departments of Health, County Attorney’s Offices, District Attorney’s Offices and Coroner’s Offices, Olean General Hospital, Jones Memorial Hospital, Cuba Memorial Hospital, Olean Police Department, Salamanca Police Department, Wellsville Police Department, Dr. Pamela Salzmann, Allegany/Western Steuben Rural Health Network and the NYS Sudden Infant and Child Death Resource Center
For more information about the Child Health and Safety Team or child safety, please call (716) 372-0614 or visit

OCFS serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, families, and communities. OCFS maintains an active social media presence. “Like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page and follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter in English or the Spanish-language Twitter account, @NYSOCFS espanol.